Investing.com - Buoyed by another pair of strong data points out of the U.S., oil futures are trading higher in Friday’s Asian session.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for April delivery rose 0.23% to USD93.25 in Asian trading Friday after settling up 0.31% at USD92.81 a barrel in the U.S. Thursday. That was a two-week high for New York-traded oil futures.
In U.S. economic news, initial claims for jobless benefits fell last week by 10,000 to 332,000 claims. Analysts expected an increase to 350,000 claims. The less volatile four-week moving average fell by 2,750 to 346,750.
The Labor Department said its seasonally adjusted producer price index rose 0.7% in February following a 0.2% increase in January. Core PPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.2%, inline with economists’ expectations.
Oil futures traded higher despite comments from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which indicated it will boost exports by by 300,000 barrels a day to 23.75 million barrels a day. Those comments jibe with recent comments from Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer, which said it will increase output.
Elsewhere, the Obama Administration said on Thursday that Royal Dutch Shell, the largest European oil company by market value, will not be allowed to drill for crude off the coast of Alaska until it overhauls its plan. The U.S. Interior Department said Shell was not adequately prepared for the harsh conditions and short drilling season in Alaska’s Arctic region.
Shell has already spent several years and USD4.5 billion just trying to begin exploration in the region. Interior Chairman Ken Salazar said he doubts oil companies could ever safely drill in Alaska’s Arctic coast.
Meanwhile, Brent crude for May delivery rose 0.10% to USD109.34 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.